” BIRA” WINS THE FIRST BIG RACE OF 1938
E.R.A. VICTORIOUS IN THE CRYSTAL PALACE CORONATION TROPHY AT 57.83 m.p.h. ARTHUR DOBSON (E.R.A.) WINS HIS HEAT. WAKEFIELD’S MASERATI SIX AND THE AUSTINS WELL IN THE PICTURE. ON April 2nd the Crystal Palace roadcircuit commenced its second season, graced with fine weather and a brisk breeze blowing down the Terrace Straight. Considering that the Boat Race and the Motor-cycle Clnbman’s Day at Brooklands were held on the same day, the attendance was extremely en couraging. Edwards has set himself the task of getting the great British public to road-races in worth-while quantity and he seems to be succeeding, So that the somewhat flippant style of the programme must be overlooked by acknowledged enthusiasts, who prefer more cut-and-dried publicity blurbs. Against which, the Palace programmes do contain excellent articles on the drivers and their cars, a practice which might well be followed by other organisers The course is still slippery—the Road Racing Club admits that in the programme, claiming that the surface has the peculiarity of improving with age, like port wine and meerschaums, and that every lap covered by a car leaves the road a degree more skid-proof. This may seem rather an optimistic, carefree way of regarding the matter, but the fact remains that no one has come seriously to grief yet. So many opinions have been expressed as to why the surface has this gradually disappearing sheen that the real cause is not easy to determine. The broadcast arrangements are excellent, the scoreboards truly commendable, and the paths within the grounds free from criticism. The pits remain crude, with the proviso that they are not used for more than signalling as a rule, on account of the short duration of the races. We do not like the grass verge before them, as it makes a dangerous patch for a car to brake on during approach and if the car remains on the road, tools, etc. cannot be reached as required from the pit counter by mechanics. We would suggest that a marshal be appointed to move circuit pass holders who insist on adorning the earth bank at Stadium Dip bend. They should be sent to the safer spot round the corner and made to sit down so as not to obstruct the spec
tators’ view, as we were. Once again, generous prize money drew entries of real quality. In practice on the preceding Thursday morning Maclure’s 2-litre Riley, =blown
as usual, was seen to have independent coil spring front suspension, as the works Rileys have had in some races previously, which Percy used with great abandon and subsequently stiffened up. ” Bira ” caused great excitement by leaving the road on the outside of the Stadium Curve, the blue E.R.A., which has normal De Ra ni damped front siispension, mounting the bank at an alarming angle, apparently without damage. Two Delahayes were out and we timed Gerard to do one lap at 2 mins. 18.4 secs. The 3,8 V8 Alfa-Romeo of Hans Ruesch had not arrived and Ruesch was rumoured to be indisposed, but we heard that Featherstonhaugh would handle the car and he was lapping with a fully equipped long
chassis sports Alfa-Romeo. J. H. Smith spun his M.G. round. J. Dugdale was out with his unblown Mf. Magnette, which was not an entry.
The first 10-lap 20-mile heat for the Coronation Trophy started at the convenient hour of 3.30 p.m.—which MOTOR SPORT in particular appreciated, following magneto trouble, near Gerrard’s Cross, Bucks, on the way to the W.A.S.A. Trial, which necessitated a dash to S.E. London by divers trains. Many well known personalities were present in the lawn-like Paddock, including Dick Seaman, Charlie Martin and Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Petre, Denis Evans and Lionel Martin. Charles Follett was assisting at the start, and Edwards found time to act as starter. nine-keeping Was in King-Farlow’s hands and H. R. Godfrey
was in charge of scrutineering. A very stately Delahaye coupe was used as a circuit car. In the front row were Everitt with Parnell’s M.G. Magnette, Hadley (Austin) and Brooke, with his M.G., modified, as MOTOR SPORT was the first motor paper
to reveal, last month. Behind were Wakefield’s Maserati Six, ” Bira’s ” 1 flitre E.R.A., Council’s E.R.A., now with single blower again, Maclure’s unblown 2-litre Riley and Aitken’s Maserati Six. Joseph Paul’s big 3f-litre Delahaye occupied the last row in solitary state. When the flag fell for the first row, Hadley accelerated away from Everitt, with Brooke last. A minute later the second row was flagged away, and ” Bira ” led Connell, with Wakefield and Aitken very close. After one lap Everitt led from Hadley and Brooke. A big gap, and then Connell, ” Bira,” Wakefield, Aitken and Maclure went by in that order, the last two close together, the Riley inclined to smoke. Lap 2 saw Everitt (M.G.) still ahead of Hadley’s Austin, Brooke third, and Connell leading ” Bira” and Wakefield in the second group. On lap 3 Hadley had closed with Everitt, but Connell still led ” Bira.” Brooke was in trouble and coasted wide at Stadium Dip to leave a clear road. Aitken’s Maserati was exhibiting furious axle judder under braking. On the next lap Hadley led, Everitt second, Connell, his E.R.A.’s front-end bouncing on corners, third, and ” Bira ” fourth. That positioning held for most of the 5th lap, but all four leading cars were very bunched. Then, at the end, Connell did an amazing bit
of passing inside at Stadium Curve, and by the close of lap 6 ” Bira ” had passed not only Everitt and Hadley. but Connell as well. Hadley’s average up to five laps was 56.31 m.p.h. It transpired that Connell had experienced a skid, which lost him the lead to” Bira” and damaged the near-side front hub of the green E.R.A. Wakefield came up a place on lap 8, and into second place on lap 9, Connell now easing up visibly. So came the tenth and last lap, ” Bixa ” ‘winning
a well-judged race at 56.81 m.p.h., Wakefield second at 55.51 m.p.h., Hadley third at 53.09 in.p.h.—E.R.A., Maserati, Austin. The Delahaye was outclassed, but ran extremely well, tailwagging joyously out of the last corner at the end. The placemen won £25, £20 and £15 respectively.
In the second heat Baron de Graffenried, we were told, arrived just too late to drive his Maserati, Snow’s Delahaye was another non-starter, and poor Abecassis had his independently-sprung 2-litre Alta towed vigorously behind a Riley Nine saloon without making it
fire in time—the official reason was water in the contact-breaker.
In the front row, with 60 secs. start, we had Charlie Dodson’s Austin and Smith’s M.G. Magnette. In the next row, with 10 secs. start, Hanson’s Maserati Six, Rolt’s smart grey ex-” Bira” E.R.A., and Arthur Dobson’s white E.R.A. (all If litres), and behind, on scratch, Featherstonhaugh, bareheaded in the now familiar and ever-imposing big Alfa-Romeo, and Gerard’s Delahaye. Dodson led Smith away, and Dobson_ was the next rapid in the next group, with. Hanson coming up fast. Lap one saw Dodson leading from Smith, Dobson, Hanson, Rolt, Featherstonhaugh and Gerard in that order. Next round there was no change. Smith took Stadium Dip wide, and here Arthur Dobson cornered
in his characteristic ” Seaman ” style,. raising the dust from the outside verge. Positions were unchanged at the end of the 4th lap, but Smith was on Dodson’s tail, and Dobson went well over the edge of the road at Stadium Dip, as the E.R.A. frequently did thereafter. By lap 6 Featherstonhaugh had passed Rolt, the Alfa snaking into the bends and the rear covers smoking under the acceleration. By lap 8 Arthur Dobson, going all he knew how, had the old white E.R.A. Ia the lead. He held it to the end, winning at 55.76 m.p.h., with Dodson’s Austin. second at 53.12 m.p.h. and Smith’s M.G. third at 53.08 m.p.h. Hanson was fourth. at 55.12 m.p.h. and Featherstonbaugh
fifth at 54.92 m.p.h. Hanson made a. great effort to pass Smith right at the end. The placemen got £25, £20 and 05. respectively.
Then followed a sensational 10-m1le.
sidecar race for £10. The victor was. A. H. Horton (Norton) at 47.83 m.p.h.. Ratcliff (Norton) was second and Surtees (Norton) third. There were other makes. running ! So to the final, over 15 laps. The little. Austin, driven by Hadley, got away from Everitt’s M.G. on acceleration, and Wakefield led ” Bira ” and Maclure. The order at the end of lap 1 was :Hadley, Smith, Dodson, Everitt, “Bira,” Wakefield, Dobson, Maclure, Hanson, Aitken, Rolt, Featherstonhaugh, Paul and Gerard. Smith repeated his outer-edge
clipping at Stadium Dip. Maclure, as. usual, looked to be on rails, while the Delahaye drivers did some very pretty and unflurried wheel-work. On lap 3′ the big Alfa spun completely round going into Stadium Dip but kept on the road
and was restarted. Hadley now led from Dodson, the little Austins increasing their lead from Smith and Everitt in acceleration down the straight. On lap.